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Question: Plagiarism is the act of committing fraud by acknowledging someone else’s ideas as your own, or by not giving an existing source credit for an original idea.  According to a study by The Center for Academic Integrity, nearly 80% of college students confess to cheating at least once. What do you think is the proper punishment for a student who gets caught cheating or plagiarizing information?



    • Courtneyandreamcwhorter
    • Posted September 15, 2009 at 1:33 pm
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    Plagiarism has always comes across as a sticky and confusing subject. There are so many rules for citing information that I sometimes get confused. For example, I had to write a 20-page graduation research paper in high school, and I really did work my fingers to the bone. I attempted to carefully note the sources being used, but to my demise, I accidentally plagiarized. The offense was over something as minute as adding an extra source not used or cited in the paper. Now I checked that paper up and down and backwards and forwards, but I could not find any mistakes. Obviously, I was wrong. I ended up getting a C on the assignment. My instructor was feeling pretty generous that year. I was not the only one to make this mistake. Over half of the senior class made some sort of mistake in their works cited page. Yes, this incident taught me a lot about citing, but for offenses such as this, I think the punishment should be less stringent. In college, the punishment for plagiarism is receiving a failing grade in the class or even expulsion. The proper punishment should fit the amount and severity of the plagiarism case. If the student forgot something small, then I think a drop in the assignment’s letter grade is sufficient. Only if the student blatantly copies and pastes work should they receive the maximum punishment. I will even propose that repeat offenders receive the maximum penalty. Let’s face it, we all make mistakes according to human error. We should not be punished so severely for that.

  1. Plagiarism is very serious. It is extremely important that authors get credit for their words and their ideas. In the academic world it is completely unacceptable that someone with an original idea or with original data not get credit for their work, and for someone to do minimal work and get the same outcome on a paper or on research. That being said, plagiarism’s gravity can also be grossly overestimated. Students who cite a source early in their paper and then go back and reiterate the idea without again giving credit to the original source are subjected to the same punishment as someone who copies and pastes his or her entire paper. A student who rephrases the information but in the same structure or similar wording gets in trouble while a student who does it a bit more smartly but still with the same minimal amount of effort does not. And there are so many things that are called plagiarism that may just be a student following his or her natural thought process that leads him or her to the exact same conclusion as the original author, but because the author said it first, the assumption is made that the student had to have copied it. I fully support giving credit to the original source and making sure that people get the recognition they deserve; I do not support the petty mistakes that get some students in trouble for something they did not even know they were doing.

  2. Erin brings up a good point. It is a shame that a student who rephrases an author’s work can still be punished as severely as a student who copies and pastes an entire paper, because either way it is plagiarism. However, there is a fine line between knowing you are plagiarizing and accidentally re-using an author’s ideas. For instance, I saw a show on television once where a girl wrote a book and it turned out that she had subconsciously used the same ideas from a book that her parents used to read to her when she was young. Is it really fair for this to be called plagiarism? If the student is unaware, the punishment should not be so severe. Then again, that leaves room for students to say “oh, I didn’t know I was plagiarizing” when, in fact, they were just trying to cover it up. I think this is a largely debatable subject that really has no correct side to it.

  3. Plagiarism is a very serious act, and there never is a good reason for anyone to do it. Whether their paper got deleted the night before and wanted to copy and paste to get cedit. It’s not worth it, never has been never will be. It’s not fair to the person the spent days-weeks working, and you just spend a few seonds copying and pasting their work. I think the punishment should be a failing grade, and maybe worst depending on what really happen. I don’t support the fact that some students get off the hook or never get caught….they will get what comes to them. No bad deed ever goes unpunished.

  4. Plagiarism is a very serious problem in today’s society. I know from experience that it is very hard to know what should be cited and what does not. I have had to write several research paper in high school. I know that I marked every source that I used, but I’m sure that there was at least one or two thoughts that were not compelety my own. I am not saying that I did not try my hardest not to but we are all human and make mistakes from time to time. I believe that the authors should get the credit for the knowledge that they have shared with the world. Students that plagiarize should be dealt with very seriously. I am not saying that they should be expelled or suspended the first time that they are caught doing it, unless they have bought a paper from the internet or something like that. The judicial system should warn them that if they are caught doing it again that they will be expelled from school.

  5. Reading some of the responses has made me go back and think more about what we as students think about plagiarism and the ways in which we may not see it. I know I have never looked at the issue from the other side before, from the side of the people trying to ensure that plagiarism doesn’t happen. It is impossible for everyone to be satisfied. The bottom line is that there is nowhere to draw the line between intentional plagiarism and unintentional plagiarism. Disciplinary boards have to treat every case the same because there is no way to differentiate. It is our job as students to make sure that our work doesn’t even have a hint of plagiarism in it, or we will be culpable and subjected to the same judgement of those who outright copy a paper off of a website.

    • Courtneyandreamcwhorter
    • Posted September 28, 2009 at 5:55 pm
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    After reading Karrah’s response, I completely agree with the fact that there is no black and white answer to disciplining plagiarism violators. It all depends on the judgment of the instructors and the honor council. I think every case is different and should not be judged on the same level, then again, that seems unjust. I’m not really sure on what is the correct way to handle this situation.

  6. I must agree with Coutney and Karrah! One can’t simply decide on a concrete punishment for one that cheats. Depending on the act, and what was actually done, it is the professoers discretion, to decide the best way to go about correcting this problem!

  7. I definitely agree that situations involving plagiarism should be judged on a case to case basis. Mistakes happen or sometimes a student simply dosen’t realize that they are doing something wrong. That fact was made very clear to me when our class took the honor code and I saw my grade. I had been confident that I knew the answers and I was quite baffled when my score was much lower then expected. That experience however, prompted me to go to my teacher and have him go over my essay and help me with correct citations. My point is that it would benefit students to learn about plagiarism and more importantly learn how to avoid it.

  8. Punishment for plagiarism should definatly start with the professors opinion on how serious of an offense the student committed. If a student made a poor decision and decided to cheat once, than that situation should be kept between the student and the instructor. Only in extreme situations and as a last resort should the honor council be brought in to levy a punishment for the student’s offense.

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